Danielle Thai is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A resource economics major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.
In this week's post, Danielle takes us to Century Park, the largest park in Shanghai, where she captains a boat and enjoys greenery in a megacity.
In a city of twenty-four million people, green-spaces are limited or non-existent. The city is concrete jungle. A majority of the land is leveled, structured, or piled with concrete. Skyscrapers and buildings are visible no matter where one stands. Even looking out of my window now, I see two skyscrapers and four buildings. Don't get me wrong, there are trees, plants, and grass, but the ratio of greenery to concrete is low. Studying in the city allows me to appreciate places where green is the primary color. In Shanghai there are parks and gardens that offer greenery without a need to leave the city. These parks and gardens are no more than a five-minute walk from a metro station making them easily accessable.
The public transportation system here is so convenient. No matter where you are in the city there is a bus or metro station close by. The fares are low and rides are reliable and fast. After a couple weeks of taking the metro with other people, I was able to comfortably navigate myself from point A to B. It is liberating to be able to get somewhere alone in a foreign country and feel comfortable doing so. I hate to admit this, but I feel more comfortable using the public transportation in China than I do back in the States. I somehow find myself getting lost when taking public transportation in Boston. It is strange that I am able to direct myself in a foreign country where the system is extensive and the language is unfamiliar.
Getting off the hour-long metro ride and walking down the street we reach Century Park. Most of the parks and gardens are open to the public but this particular park requires an entrance fee. Because of the fee people may decide not to go, but let me say paying to enter the park is worth it. Century Park is the largest park in Shanghai, spanning three hundred forty-six acres. The park offers a multitude of activities that include mini-golfing, an amusement park, tandem bicycles, kite flying, boat rides and a music square. It is a beautiful place to spend the day relaxing or to participating in any of the activities. Walking around, there were tents all over the place that people had pitched. There are small snack kiosks and bathrooms around the park. On the walkways there are vendors selling various items such as flower-crowns [looking back I wish I got one], kites, pinwheels, and bubbles.
We decided we wanted to ride a boat. We walked in the direction of the lake where we thought the boats were likely to be, and after a few wrong turns and detours we finally found them. Unless there's an even number of people on the boat, it tilts a bit. The person who helped us get on the boat tried telling us how to steer in Mandarin because somehow my friend and I ended up in the seats with the wheel. Lets just say we have trouble doing simple tasks so we were struggling to figure it out. There was a wheel and a gearshift that we started messing around with and it took us a little while to understand how the gearshift worked. For a good five to ten minutes we tried to move the boat towards the other part of the lake until we finally managed to get the boat to move at a steady speed... but we were going backward! When we finally got the boat moving forward it was smooth sailing. The view of the park from the lake was really pretty. In the foreground there is the greens of the park and the background are of the buildings and skyscrapers.
Even though I am in a megacity there are little pots of green. As much as I love being in a city being able to escape to a park or a garden is refreshing.
Until next time,
Danielle's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned!